To help get through the cold winter, low-income homeowners in Chicago and Chicago Heights received free furnace and boiler tune-ups to keep them safe and warm. This initiative was the result of a partnership between Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago, SM Local 73 and SMACNA Greater Chicago.

When the risks associated with COVID-19 limited Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago’s ability to perform interior home repair, the organization met the challenge by broadening the services it provides to families and elderly homeowners. As part of this transition, Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago led an outreach effort with the intent of assessing its clients’ unique needs, while providing valuable referrals and connections to other resources in the community. From ensuring food security to providing PPE, Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago has responded to the crisis by providing a safer, more secure home environment for area residents.

In December 2020, a partnership with Local 73 and SMACNA Greater Chicago provided warmer, safer home environments for low-income families in preparation for winter. This initiative, called Warm the Metro, enlists union members and local HVAC contractors to visit more than 50 homes annually, offering free tune-up services on boilers and furnaces. This year, the Warm the Metro partnership provided tune-ups in 64 homes, plus full replacements in five.

“Furnace and boiler tune-ups are exactly the type of support our homeowners need to stay safe and warm through the winter. We are delighted to continue this partnership for a second year, and so grateful to our SMACNA and Local 73 friends,” said Wanda Ramirez, CEO of Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago.

In addition to providing improved heating efficiency, safety and indoor comfort, a regular furnace tune-up can spell the difference between a five- to 10-year and a 15- to 20-year life expectancy for a heating system. To complete the tune-ups, Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago partnered with South Suburban Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., and RD’s HVAC, Inc. for the Warm the Metro initiative.

“The men and women of Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 73 have a long history of giving back to our community,” said Local 73 President and Business Manager Raymond Suggs. “We are proud to work with Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago to Warm the Metro in preparation for winter. The danger posed by COVID-19 makes it more important than ever to have a safe, warm, comfortable home to protect residents’ health and safety this winter. We look forward to future partnerships with Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago and continuing to provide and give back our services to those in need.”

The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) applaud the efforts of the Biden Administration as they continue to innovate and press forward to ensure safe and clean air. The air we breathe within our buildings and schools must be safe for the people who live, learn and work in them. This clean air endeavor is of the upmost necessity, and we believe the administration is working to place that importance front and center with their efforts.

SMART and SMACNA have a vested interest in the success of the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge. The training, skills, and certifications our members have in indoor air quality, ventilation and filtration is the cornerstone of our craft. The quality of training and work our members and contractors do are important to us, as is the people who breathe the air that we deliver.

SMART’s partnership with SMACNA has been providing skilled, trained, and certified workers to respond in a timely manner to meet industry demands for more than a century.

SMART, with more than 203,000 members, provides classroom, hands-on, on-the-job and rapid response training to its members through federal and state registered apprenticeships in more than 150 state of the art training centers located throughout the United States and Canada.

SMACNA, representing 3,500 signatory contracting firms with more than 100 chapters throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and Brazil, employ the SMART member apprentices (in an earn-while-you-learn program) who are mentored by trained, skilled and certified journeypersons.

SMART and SMACNA have witnessed the ups and downs of the HVAC industry in the past. Our membership and contractor base has always adapted to the challenges and grown with the needs of the industry. We feel confident in the ability of SMART, SMACNA and other Contractor Partners to meet and exceed the needs of the work ahead.